Mr. Gerald W. Owens, 2022 Trailblazer of the Year

Mr. Gerald W. Owens
General Organizer, (retired) International Longshoremen's Association

2022 Trailblazer of the Year

Building One New Jersey Mr. Owens for special recognition as 2022 Trailblazer of the Year for his breakthrough leadership and a lifetime of organizing for justice, equality, and an inclusive and powerful middle class.




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Rev. Regena Thomas, 2022 Steadfast & Loyal Friend

Rev. Regena Thomas

Women, Human & Civil Rights Advocacy Director, American Federation of Teachers

2022 Steadfast & Loyal Friend

Building One New Jersey Rev. Thomas for special recognition as 2022 Steadfast & Loyal Friend for her breakthrough leadership and many years of fighting for justice, equal rights, and opportunity for all working people.




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Dr. Scott Rocco, 2022 Public Servant of the Year

Dr. Scott Rocco

Hamilton Township School District Superintendent

2022 Public Servant of the Year

Building One New Jersey chose Dr. Rocco for special recognition as 2022 Public Servant of the Year for his leadership and service and for his commitment to inclusive, integrated, and high-quality public education.




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Bishop John Schol Bishop, 2022 Moral Leader of the Year

Bishop John Schol

Greater New Jersey Conference, United Methodist Church

2022 Moral Leader of the Year

Building One New Jersey chose Bishop Schol for special recognition as Moral Leader of the Year for his many years of service and social activism and for the righteous pursuit of power for the cause of justice through faith in action.




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Dr. Angelica Allen McMillan, 2022 Powerful Ally of the Year

Dr. Angelica Allen McMillan

Acting Commissioner, NJ Department of Education

2022 Powerful Ally of the Year

Building One New Jersey chose Dr. Allen McMillan for special recognition as our 2022 Powerful Ally of the Year for her important breakthrough leadership role and for her courage and wisdom in defending inclusion by opposing racial segregation and school district secessions.




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King Day Observance and Policy Forum at Mount Zion Baptist Church

The Unfinished Work; Ending Segregation, Expanding Democracy

Monday, January 17, 2022 (we will gather remotely via Zoom)

Please join us for a virtual Martin Luther King Day observance and policy forum on racial segregation on Monday, January 17, 2022, from 12:00 to 2:00 PM, ET at Mount Zion Baptist Church, Pleasantville, NJ.

Our coalition that has been battling the deeply entrenched and well-funded forces of racial segregation here in Atlantic County and across the state for some time. We intend to expand and escalate our campaign as we build multi-racial support to win over policymakers through mobilization and direct action.

We can think of no better use of the King Day observance than to launch this important work in the new year and we would be honored if you would join us. 

"Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God’s children."
Martin Luther King, Jr. : I Have a Dream Speech (1963)

Martin Luther King Day observance and policy forum on racial segregation, Monday, January 17, 2022, from 12:00 to 2:00 PM, Mount Zion Baptist Church, Pleasantville, NJ (Via Zoom)

Please pre-register here for this remote gathering of faith, community, political and policy leaders.

Leadership Training for Inclusive Communities


January 27 through January 30, 2022, Sheraton Atlantic City Convention Center Hotel, Atlantic City, NJ

Because space is limited, interested individuals must apply to participate in this program.  The application is available online and can be accessed HERE.



Demographic diversity has been increasing throughout American society.  While membership and even leadership in many organizations have reflected this change, power and decision-making often fail to keep up with the racial, ethnic, generational and gender make up of our communities and institutions, including labor unions, local government, and religious congregations. This failure has left us weaker and more easily undermined by those who do not share our values of inclusion and opportunity.

One reason for this persistent power gap is that we too often confuse the visual trappings of diversity with genuine equality and political and economic integration. When members of underrepresented groups secure leadership positions they frequently begin at a significant disadvantage. Generational layers of power, privilege, experience and networks of formal and informal relationships are at play in any public arena where power is wielded and important decisions get made. These dynamics are taken for granted or denied by the powerful, while often unseen or not easily understood by the powerless. We frequently find ourselves in organizations, committees, boards and leadership structures that are diverse in name and appearance, but in reality are decidedly lopsided when it comes to the exercise of power.

As Frederick Douglass famously reminded us, power never did and never will be given away by those who have it to those who don’t.

Building One America’s training does not claim to make people more powerful nor does it create diversity, but it does better equip emerging leaders from diverse and working-class backgrounds to better understand and navigate the dynamics of power and politics and to have the tools to compete effectively and further themselves and their values in the public arena. Moreover, it will help individual leaders to recognize more clearly their own potential and motivations to build a powerful and meaningful public life.

Because space is limited, interested individuals must apply to participate in this program.  The application is available online and can be accessed HERE


Who: This training is for leaders from anywhere who want to become more effective in making a difference – including organizers, leaders and volunteers from the faith community, labor unions, electoral politics, public office holders and grassroots rank-and-file leaders. 

What: The training teaches ordinary people to unleash their capacity to impact the social, political, environmental, and economic decisions affecting their lives. The training has been designed and will be conducted by experienced organizers affiliated with Building One America and the Summit for Civil Rights. The training is unique in combining elements of leadership training developed over the past fifty years by national community organizing networks, with a contemporary analysis and strategy for developing multiracial institutional and social power to build more inclusive and equitable communities.

Topics covered include:

  • An orientation and reflection on power
  • Understanding self-interest as a way to build membership, engage allies and adversaries, and become a more focused and self-motivated leader
  • The role, value, and techniques of one-on-one organizing
  • Conducting and understanding a power analysis
  • Distinguishing the “public” from the “private” in order to build an effective public life
  • The key principles and elements of strategy and tactics and issues and action
  • Identifying and developing leaders
  • The importance of organized money
  • Principles and techniques for effective meetings
  • Personal reflection, strategic planning and developing a personal path to power

The training is not just an intellectual exercise. It challenges and helps experienced leaders and emerging leaders to identify, reflect on, and overcome internalized attitudes and beliefs that stand in the way of becoming more powerful and impactful. The goal is to produce more powerful leaders and to facilitate the expansion of more powerful and more unified multiracial coalitions and structures.

When:  The training will take place over four days starting Thursday, January 27 through Sunday January 30, 2022.

Where: Sheraton Atlantic City Convention Center Hotel, Atlantic City, NJ

Cost: Tuition plus room and board is $625 per participant for affliaites and sponsoring organizations. 

Because space is limited, interested individuals must apply to participate in this program.  The application is available online and can beaccessed HERE. 


The training institute helped me become a more powerful leader, acting more strategically, efficiently, and decisively, creating greater accountability for myself and others - Eloise Henry, President, Richmond Heights (OH) City Council

 ...a very powerful training. It equipped me with the tools to reinvent myself - Rev. Rohan Hepkins, Mayor, Yeadon, PA

This is the most relevant, intense and productive conference I have ever attended - Heather Sorge, Campaign Organizer, Healthy Schools Now

Despite 40 plus years in politics, I found the 4-day training to be new, useful, and refreshing.  It was helpful in expanding my own political power and in understanding and dealing with others who are exercising theirs. Ant it led to new and significant relationships for me - Dale Miller, Member, Cuyahoga (OH) County Council

Completely caught me by surprise. I thought I knew what being a leader meant, but the training showed me parts of leadership that I knew nothing about. It really helped me with my networking skills and in my new position as President of CWRUs Black Student Union. I’m excited to see what it can do for more people in our community - Aliah Lawson Executive Chair, Black Student Union, Case Western Reserve University

Learned how our stories of powerlessness informs our own path to power. I had great moments of clarity - Ashley Bennett, Freeholder, Atlantic County

It was helpful. Extraordinarily. Thank you! - Tomea Sippio-Smith - Public Citizens for Children and Youth (PA) Education Policy Director

Training was awesome. Confirmation for me as well as new found skills – Alexis Rean-Walker, HPAE, Secretary-Treasurer

 Learned new skills for active listening and relationship development; clearer understanding of power dynamics that drive organizations and elected leaders; deeper understanding of structural causes of inequity and a path to racial integration; and practical steps to develop an inclusive and powerful network that can drive change - Tom Bullock, Member at Large, Lakewood (OH) City Council

Key learning moments were understanding my power, self interest and anger.  Thank you! – Martha Camacho-Rodriguez - Cerritos College, Trustee, Norwalk, CA

I’ve become more confident and feel that I have fully stepped into my leadership role - Safronia Perry, Executive Director, Hope Station (PA) Area Neighborhood Council

 I used to stay in the back of the room, rarely speak, and try to be invisible. The training helped me to find my voice - Darnelle Crenshaw, Student, Case Western Reserve University  

The training did a terrific job encouraging us to reflect on times when we feel powerless, and to consider how those times can help shape how we react to the world and drive us in our work. - Tim Nelson, Vice President, Braham (Minnesota) Evangelical Lutheran Church Council, Chair, Braham (Minnesota) Area Education Foundation

Thank you. The training was awesome – Taylor Picket Stokes, Rescue Mission of Trenton

The training rocked my world and gave me a new roadmap for action. Amazingly intense and perspective-shifting. Great content, compelling examples, helpful exercises and an energized group of participants. - Gary Forman, Trustee and Executive Committee Member, SOMA Action


Event Date: 
Thursday, January 27, 2022 - 10:00am to Sunday, January 30, 2022 - 4:00pm
Event location: 
Atlantic City, NJ
Event Fee: 
Tuition is $625 per participant (including lodging and meals)

July 13 Clergy, Faith & Community Leaders Gathering

School Segregation, Education & Opportunity in New Jersey.

Please join us for the next gathering of community and faith leaders on Tuesday, July 13th for an update and next steps on the fight against school segregation and secession in our state.

Please pre-register here for this virtual gathering of faith and community leaders.

This week marks the 116th anniversary of the founding of the Niagara Movement, the forerunner to the NAACP, where W. E. B. Dubois, William M. Trotter and other powerful Black leaders signed a Declaration of Principles condemning the “Color-Line” in American society in our courts, schools, jobs, neighborhoods, and politics. These systems of heavily enforced discrimination, it said, are “relics of that unreasoning human savagery of which the world is and ought to be thoroughly ashamed.” 

On Tuesday we will honor those powerful women and men who waged war against the “Color-Line” throughout the 19th and 20th centuries as we seek to smite it down every time it rears its hideously ugly segregationist head in the 21st century.

We will provide an update on the progress we made in exposing, challenging and purging the segregationist and secessionist provisions embedded in the school consolidation bill sponsored by Senate President Sweeney and recently passed by the New Jersey Legislature. Likewise, we will provide an update on details and registration information for the New Jersey conference on School Segregation and Opportunity  to be held this September 24th at Mercer County College on the Anniversary of the Little Rock 9.

Tuesday, July 13 at 1:00 to 2:00 pm. Please pre-register here for this virtual gathering of faith and community leaders



June 15 Follow-Up Clergy, Faith & Community Leaders Gathering

School Segregation, Education & Opportunity in New Jersey.

Last month nearly 100 faith and community leaders gathered with key legislative allies, including the leadership of the powerful NJ Legislative Black Caucus, to address the worsening crisis caused by the enduring sin of racial segregation in our public schools.

In addition to Assemblyman Benjie E. Wimberly, Assemblywoman Mila Jasey and Legislative Black Caucus Chair Assemblywoman Shavonda E. Sumter, we were joined by renowned civil rights scholars and lawyers including John C. Brittain at UDC School of Law in Washington, DC,  Leslie Wilson of Montclair State University and Myron Orfield, Professor of Law at the University of Minnesota.

Meeting organizers Rev. Willie Francois of Mount Zion Baptist Church in Pleasantville and Rev. Kenneth Clayton, Pastor of St. Luke Baptist Church in Paterson provided background on the recent wave of racialized school secessions across the state where majority white school districts seek to sever their send-receive relationships with majority black and brown school districts in clear violation of the New Jersey constitution outlawing racially segregated education. In the meantime, the same cabal of highly paid consultants and lawyers representing the seceding districts have bragged that a new bill they claimed to help write for  school consolidation can be used to subsidize and accelerate segregation (“withdrawals”) in the name of efficiency and cost savings.

Legislative leaders were asked and agreed to hold hearings on this issue including the current legislation now before the General Assembly.

On Tuesday, June 15 we will reconvene for an update on our progress to stop this new and expanding form of school Jim Crow and to advance strategies and policies to maximize access to opportunity for all children and communities across the state.

Tuesday, June 15 at 1:00 to 2:00 pm. Please pre-register here for this virtual gathering of faith leaders